After you’ve prepared a Windows Server with the Exchange Server 2016 pre-requisites you can proceed with the installation of Exchange Server itself.

In this tutorial we’ll cover:

  • Preparing Active Directory for Exchange Server 2016 installation
  • Installing the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role on a new server

Before you start there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Installing Exchange Server 2016 requires an Active Directory schema update. We’ll look at that in more detail shortly.
  • Aside from the schema update installing Exchange Server 2016 makes other irreversible changes to your Active Directory forest. If you’ve never backed up your Active Directory, or you’ve never heard of a forest recovery, here’s some reading for you.
  • If you’re installing Exchange into the forest for the first time you will be choosing an organization name. The Exchange organization can’t be renamed at a later date, so choose a name you’re happy with keeping forever.

Preparing Active Directory

A new installation of Exchange Server 2016 involves applying an Active Directory schema update, as do most Exchange Server cumulative updates, as well as preparing the Active Directory domains where Exchange Server 2016 and any mail-enabled objects will be located. In an Active Directory forest with a single domain this can all be performed as one task.

The Active Directory schema update will automatically apply when you run Exchange Server 2016 setup on the first server in your environment. A Windows Server 2012 R2 server with the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role pre-requisites installed doesn’t quite meet the requirements (you’ll need to add the RSAT-ADDS feature as shown below). A domain controller will have RSAT-ADDS installed already, but may also need the .NET Framework version shown below to be installed first.

Whether you’re running the schema update from an Exchange server or a separate server (some organizations do it as a separate task due to change control reasons, or because of different teams having different administrative responsibilities in the environment) then the following requirements apply:



  • The forest functional level must be at least Windows Server 2008
  • The account used to run the schema update and Active Directory preparation must be a member of Enterprise Admins and Schema Admins. These are high privilege groups I recommend you plan to remove your account from the groups when you’re done with this task. Note, if you’ve just added yourself to these groups you’ll need to log out and back in to the server for the new group membership to take effect.
  • The server you’re running the schema update from must be located in the same Active Directory site as the Schema Master. You can identify your Schema Master by running my Get-ADInfo.ps1 script, or by using the Get-ADForest PowerShell cmdlet.


Now we’re ready to run the Active Directory schema update and and preparation.

If you’ve already got Exchange Server running in your environment you can check the current Exchange schema version before applying the update, so that you can see what the before and after version numbers are.

In PowerShell run the following one-liner created by Exchange Server MVP Michael B Smith:

Note, in my example above there is no existing Exchange server installed, hence no Exchange schema version to report.

Extract the Exchange Server 2016 setup files into a folder, open a command prompt window, and then navigate to the location where the Exchange setup files were extracted.

To apply only the schema update run the following command:

After applying the schema update we can check the version number again.

To prepare Active Directory run one of the following commands. Note this will also apply the schema update if you did not perform that step already.

If you do not already have an Exchange organization you’ll need to provide a name for the organization now, for example:

If you’re installing Exchange Server 2016 into an existing Exchange organization you do not need to specify the organization name, for example:


Remember, you can’t change the Exchange organization name later, so choose a name you’ll be happy to live with forever. Also, after installing Exchange Server 2016 as a new organization you will not be able to install any earlier versions of Exchange into the same organization.


If you have additional domains in your forest that you need to prepare (any domain that will host an Exchange server or mail-enabled objects) follow the guidance on TechNet here.

Installing the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox Server Role

The Mailbox server role contains all of the components required to run an Exchange Server 2016 server. There is also an Edge Transport role, but that is not a mandatory role and is not covered in this tutorial.

After installing the Exchange Server 2016 pre-requisites on a server you can install the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role by running the following command from an elevated command prompt.


Next Steps

After setup has completed restart the server before you continue with configuring Exchange Server 2016.

Abdulsalam Garba

The author Abdulsalam Garba

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